ERSA calls for measures to increase the transparency and effectiveness of future Government procurem
ERSA calls for measures to increase the transparency and effectiveness of future Government procurement.
The Employment Related Services Association (ERSA), the trade body for the welfare to work industry, today welcomed the publication of the Government’s response to the Work and Pensions Select Committee Inquiry on Work Programme procurement, but released survey data showing that more could be done to increase the transparency and effectiveness of future Government procurement.
Speaking in response to the publication, ERSA chief executive Kirsty McHugh said & lsquo;This is a useful exchange which places the Government’s commitment to evaluation and transparency of information firmly in the public arena. ERSA’s membership has always backed the principles of the Work Programme, but our recent survey of ERSA members shows that the speed at which it was conducted has had a range of consequences that need to be taken into consideration by future Government procurement exercises. In addition, it would be helpful for the Government to publish a statement of intent about future procurement intention to help increase confidence in the market’.
ERSA surveyed its members between 25 May and 16 June 2011 and received a 61% response rate. The survey results show that 71% believed that Government procurement timetables had been difficult and that 40% thought the procurement process allowed providers insufficient scope for introducing innovative ways of delivering welfare to work services.
In addition, there was a call from subcontractors for prime contractors to reduce the bureaucracy of their own procurement processes. Some potential subcontractors had filled in over 100 Expression of Interest forms, which had presented a substantial opportunity cost to smaller organisations.
ERSA also called for greater transparency from Government on a range of other issues, including:
The extent to which the Government is undertaking a DEL/AME switch. The Government’s statement in the response to the Work and Pensions Committee report that benefit savings & lsquo;will help pay providers for the results they achieve’ seems to indicate that a full DEL/AME model has not been implemented. This has implications for the wider roll out of payment by results across the public sector
Any future adaptations of the payment model need to be undertaken only after close dialogue with the sector, particularly given previous concern among some ERSA members about how the financial model and performance criteria had been arrived at. Similarly there needs to be close dialogue at an early stage regarding the introduction of the Universal Credit. The definition of a job outcome payment under the new benefit system is a major concern and contractual variation will only be acceptable after extensive dialogue with the sector and
A lack of certainty about the interaction of the Work Capability Assessment and the Work Programme, particularly in instances where individual customers are referred to Work Programme providers when unable to work.